In another of a seemingly endless string of examples of cultural abdication in Blighty, The Ministry of Silly Walks Birmingham Councillor Tim Huxtable has decided that the name of the city’s historic firearms manufacturing sector, the Gun Quarter, must be changed. For 250 years, it’s been the birthplace of the muskets that fought Napoleon, fine hand-crafted smooth bores and the Lee Enfield rifle. Among others. But now it might as well be the quarter that shall not be named. It’s good to know, though, that the decision has nothing to do with political correctness…
To hear Huxtable tell it, he’s only responding to public opinion.
Consultation into the future development of Birmingham resulted in “significant objection” from the local community to the use of the word ‘gun’, according to the final draft of the Big City Plan, setting out a 20-year vision for the city centre.
Huxtable remained unrepentant. He said: “We listened to the local community, which is the whole point of consultation. The views of local people seem quite clear. It wasn’t done for political correctness.”
No, hoplophobia had nothing to do with it. Nothing whatever. The new name for the area: St. George and St. Chad after a church and Birmingham’s Roman Catholic cathedral. Catchy, no?
Sir Albert [Bore] said: “Like it or not, and I am not into the arms trade myself, the Gun Quarter has a historical connection with this city. This is just political correctness. We haven’t got a big vision for this area, we haven’t got it right and we are not going to get it right if we call it St George and St Chad because it doesn’t mean anything, it doesn’t convey anything.”
And it’s not just opposition politicians who don’t like it.
The decision was described as “a terrible shame” by the owner of Birmingham’s best-known surviving gun maker, Westley Richards & Co. The company, based in Pritchett Street, which was responsible for manufacturing the British army’s Lee Enfield rifles, celebrates its 200th anniversary next year.
Simon Clode said: “This is an important part of Birmingham’s history and provided the biggest sector of employment in the early days. It’s a terrible shame they are denying history.”
Oh well. History and tradition have never really been a big part of English life anyway.